Meg Dolman, a doctoral candidate in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior PhD program and part of the Human-Environment Systems project, recently published an article in The Conversation that sheds light on the importance of educating hikers about non-native invasive plants. Dolman’s research was inspired by her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, where she encountered numerous non-native invasive plant species. Her passion for the environment and the impact that humans have on it inspired her to explore hiker perceptions and knowledge about invasive non-native plants.
As a result of her research, Dolman compiled a set of best practices to minimize invasive plant introduction and spread to new areas. These include, but are not limited to:
- Arriving with clean gear
- Cleaning shoes, clothing and equipment before and after going outdoors is one of the most effective ways to minimize invasive plant introduction and spread
- Choosing clothing and shoes carefully.
- Certain surfaces, such as uncovered socks, shoelaces, fleece and Velcro, are more seed-friendly than smoother materials such as nylon
- Identifying and reporting invasive plant sightings using smartphone apps
- Following Leave No Trace minimum-impact principles
The article has already made a positive impact on the hiker community and beyond. Her research provides a valuable tool for anyone who cares about the environment and wants to help preserve it for future generations.
“Meg’s work shows a commitment to doing research with an immediate, real-world impact. I read it and immediately changed my own behavior after going on a hike,” said Jen Schneider, the associate dean at the College of Innovation and Design and director of Human-Environment Systems. “Her work embodies the efforts we make in Human-Environment Systems to do work that has a positive impact on communities and the natural world.”
Overall, Dolman’s research is a testament to the importance of taking action to protect the environment. With her work, she has demonstrated that anyone can make a difference by taking simple steps to reduce their impact on the natural world. Dolman’s next steps after graduation involve continuing to conduct research that furthers her knowledge of ecology and the environment while also enhancing her science communication skills.
The Human-Environment Systems program is a project based in the College of Innovation and Design.